The soprano, who turns 70 on Thursday, has told British broadcaster ITV that her cameo in La Fille du Regiment at London’s Royal Opera House will be her last role.
“It’s a small part so it’s not going to take up too much of my energy – apart from my knees. My knees don’t like the stage at all now.
“There’s relief that the pressure is off. It’s a very, very high energy job and a lot is expected of you – you’re really expected to do … more than you can cope with sometimes.”
She likened her career to a freight train: “We just kept going and going and this is getting off time.”
The production ends on March 18.
Dame Kiri is making her return to Covent Garden after a 17-year absence to play the Duchess of Crackentorp, a role that is normally non-singing, but has been rewritten to allow her to sing an arietta.
Dame Kiri made her debut at Covent Garden in 1971 and achieved global recognition when she sang at the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana 10 years later to a worldwide TV audience of 750 million.
Last year she played the part of Dame Nellie Melba in the television period drama Downtown Abbey, and is reported to have reduced the cast and crew to tears when she sang on set.
Although calling time on her opera career Dame Kiri still has a busy year in front of her. In May and June she takes her 70th Birthday Gala showcase on tour in New Zealand.
In 2009 she told the Daily Telegraph she was eyeing operatic retirement because she found the job too exhausting.